Latvia is a Republic state based on parliamentary democracy. Latvia (official name: Republic of Latvia) gained its independence in 1991 after disintegration of the Soviet Union.
President is the chief of state and is elected by the parliament in a separate election for a four year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President appoints the Prime Minister as head of the government who in turn has to receive a confidence vote by the parliament and serves a four year term. Prime Minister enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs.The Council of Ministers is nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Parliament.
The legislature in Latvia is unicameral. The Parliament consists of 100 seats; its members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The government does not have the power to dissolve the parliament. The people of Latvia enjoy considerable political rights.
Constitution of the country provides an independent judiciary and the government generally respects it. But judicial reforms in the country have been slow and prone to corruption. The main source of the law in the country is the constitution of 1922 (amended in 1998); legal system is based on civil law system. Latvia being a member of the European Union (joined EU in May 2004), the national law in the country has to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation. The judicial language in the country is Latvian; having an interpreter is possible.
Latvia is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. A high degree of corruption exists in the country as compared to other EU members. Latvia is the most corrupt among the Baltic states, particularly effecting politics and corporate sector. However, the government has adopted various anticorruption measures.
Major political parties
Latvia has a multi-party system, where no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. Some of the major parties in the country are:
- JL (New Era Party) – a right-wing political party, advocates reforms in health-care and education;
- TP (People's Party) – a conservative pro-EU political party;
- LPP (First Party of Latvia) – advocates populist ideology, supported by Church;
- ZZS (Latvian Green Party) – a left-of-centre environmentalism political alliance;
- TB/LNNK (For the Fatherland and Freedom) – a nationalist political party, involved in country’s independence movement.
Major political leaders
President: Valdis ZATLERS (since July 2007) – Popular Front of Latvia
Prime Minister: Ivars GODMANIS (since December 2007)
Next political election dates
Presidential: Year 2011
Parliamentary: Year 2010